First California fracking regulations signed into law

Regulations on fracking in California will go into effect on January 1, 2014, after having been signed into law by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown on Friday.

The law "establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements,” the Governor claimed, requiring companies to obtain a general fracking permit, and a permit to use hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals in the dissolution of shale rock. Energy companies will have to disclose their fracking fluid 'cocktails' and notify nearby landowners of their plans, Bloomberg reports.

California, the US's most populous state, holds the country's largest reserves of shale oil. An estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil sit in the state's Monterey Shale deposit. 

Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – is a controversial practice that injects millions of gallons of chemically-treated water in order to break apart rocks, freeing trapped oil and gas. Opponents of the practice claim that it can severely pollute water supplies and may even increase the likelihood of earthquakes.